As noted in an earlier post, the Office was already working around-the-clock to deal with the virus by relaxing the dress code. They weren't sending their non-essential employees home back then, for some reason. But Division Chief Tanisha Manning decided to get out ahead of the crisis by creating a worksheet to keep track of the Office's internal mortality rate.
Since the powers that be had no intention of issuing a blanket "stay-at-home" order at that time, the Office clearly needed to keep track of those less dedicated employees who weren't coming into work. On its face, the chart is laughable. So much so that I initially was curious as to whether or not it had been created facetiously.
The beautifully color-coded chart for each day of the work week allowed for supervisors to document those employees within their respective divisions who were missing work for 1) non-COVID related reasons, 2) quarantining without symptoms, 3) being diagnosed with COVID or showing symptoms, or 4) something having to do with being in Court or at the Office's headquarters at 500 Jefferson. The crown jewel of this ridiculous worksheet, however, was the top portion, which requested notification of those "Employees Seriously Ill or who have Passed Away due to COVID-19."
As one employee noted: "I'm supposed to call in dead?"
To be fair, Tanisha didn't come up with the questions being asked; those were apparently from the overarching Harris County government. But, she did make it a very pretty worksheet that was sent out to other employees. It wasn't really that big a deal, but it caused a couple of gallows-humor inspired chuckles amongst many of the employees at the Office. Others took it to be an all-too-frightening warning. That same morning was when news of an exposed prosecutor had resulted in a shutdown of the 8th floor of the CJC and people in HAZMAT suits were greeting visitors when they entered the building.
At some point, someone took a photograph of the worksheet while it was displayed on a computer monitor and sent it to a friend or two. And that's where the trouble started.
A troublemaking, bald-headed defense attorney (who strangely enough was not me) posted that photo on Facebook and lightly made fun of it.
It is important to keep the timeframe in context here, because it's very relevant.
The day after this silly worksheet came out, everything got real serious over at the CJC. Prosecutors were sent home and told to work from there. The CJC began aggressively shutting down bond dockets and keeping people out of the building entirely. In short, the crisis of the coronavirus was hitting home and we were all in full-fledged crisis mode.
But for Kim Ogg, the real crisis wasn't the coronavirus.
It was finding out whoever leaked that photograph to a defense attorney. It was time for a good old-fashioned witch hunt.
For what it's worth, I had no idea that any of this was going on at the time. My first clue that something was afoot came when I e-mailed a senior Felony Chief prosecutor about a case and never heard back. Having dealt with this Chief before on many occasions and knowing him to be an extremely responsible and diligent prosecutor, I found this to be unusual. I made mention to someone else that I found this to be unusual. That person then told me the story that I'm about to tell you (if you don't already know it).
Now, before going any further, I want to make a couple of things VERY clear. By the time you get to the end of this blog post, you will understand why. The first thing I want made clear is that I am 100% confident in the information I'm about to write. The second thing is that I received this information from multiple, multiple sources and I'm not going to name them under any circumstances. If Kim Ogg would like to know them, she can call me on my direct line at 713-BITE-MYASS. And finally, I'm not going to name the prosecutors targeted in this witch hunt. They were all treated unfairly and I have no intention of making it worse for them by naming them. If you comment on this post and name any of them, I won't be publishing your comment.
As I was saying . . .
While everyone else was pulling together to help keep the Criminal Justice System moving forward, Crazy Kim Ogg was ramping up her own version of the Spanish Inquisition. She dispatched her Chief Investigator Steve Clappart and his team of investigators to locate the dastardly, disloyal person who had shared the photograph. Prosecutors were interrogated and were asked whether or not they had received the picture, and if so, had they forwarded it on to anyone outside the Office.
A senior felony chief prosecutor acknowledged having received the photo and sending it to a handful of other prosecutors but told the investigator that it had not been sent to anyone outside the Office. Stunningly, the prosecutor was immediately suspended and the prosecutor's county-issued computer was confiscated. The investigator then asked for the prosecutor to turn over the prosecutor's personal cell phone for downloading, and the prosecutor declined.
So to satisfy Kim Ogg's paranoia, a prosecutor (who was not the source of the photo, nor the person who forwarded said photo to the above-mentioned bald defense attorney) was suspended for sharing the photo with a group of prosecutors.
Let that sink in for just a moment.
With the coronavirus in full effect and everyone is involved in a group effort to help, Kim Ogg sidelines an experienced Felony District Court Chief for her arbitrary belief that the prosecutor was somehow "disloyal."
Seem stupid and paranoid? Probably because it is.
But wait, there's more. Kim Ogg and Chief Stormtrooper Clappart would do something similar to six more senior prosecutors -- four additional District Court Chiefs, and two senior Felony Twos. Those six wouldn't actually be suspended, but they did have either Clappart or one of his investigators show up at their doors to confiscate their work computers for a good old-fashioned Disloyalty Download. Again, the investigators were told to request the personal cell phones of all of those prosecutors for download, and again all were denied.
As a side note, I really want to give a huge shout out to Harris County District Attorney Chief Investigator Steve Clappart. You have really come a long way from the olden days when you were a respected Homicide investigator with HPD. From drafting a bullshit Capital Murder warrant to charge a teenager as an alternate suspect on behalf of David Temple's defense team to shaking down senior prosecutors for their personal cell phones. You've got to be so proud. I guess what your former colleagues think of you no longer matters. Hey, I've got a mystery for an old Homicide guy: figure out who murdered your reputation. SPOILER ALERT: It was you.
So, back to the Mad Queen.
Although not suspended, the additional six prosecutors no longer had their computers, which drastically reduced their ability to do their jobs while the rest of us were trying to figure out Zoom conferences and other things that were desperately needed in the crisis. Not just any prosecutors, but senior prosecutors who are all highly respected for the jobs that they do. These were the exact people who needed to be working at full capacity through this crisis, not sidelined to satisfy Kim's paranoia.
The ultimate irony in this was that none of those seven sidelined prosecutors either a) took the photo; b) shared the photo with the defense attorney; nor c) shared it outside of the Office. They all just got punished for refusing to turn over their private cell phones to the idiots running the witch hunt.
Kim's ego-fueled paranoia couldn't have come at a worse time. But it wasn't over yet.
All of the prosecutors were told to come into the Office or participate in a Zoom conference with the Empress herself. All had refused to turn over their personal cell phones to Clappart and Company, but perhaps they would cave when asked by Ogg herself. Ogg told them all that they could be fired for failing to turn over their personal phones for download. They all stood their ground, refusing to turn over their personal, private data in an effort to extinguish Kim's lunacy.
In the middle of this, the actual prosecutor who had sent the picture to the defense came forward. This prosecutor was also a respected Felony District Court Chief who didn't want anyone else having to suffer Kim's wrath for something that they hadn't done. The prosecutor explained that the purpose of sharing the photo had been out of concern, not mockery. The prosecutor offered up their personal cell phone. Ironically, the investigator declined to take it.
That was a week or so ago. Time kind of runs together these days. Ultimately the Original Seven prosecutors all received letters of reprimand in their files for their alleged insubordination for failing to turn over their phones. They have been told that they all are going to be transferred out of their current assignments immediately, on the off chance that any of them were happy where they were.
Today, the prosecutor who came forward was fired. I'm not sure what exactly the rationale was behind firing somebody who a) didn't break the law; b) didn't break an actual rule in the Office's Operation manual; and c) was honest about the prosecutor's involvement in the "scandal." As with the Original Seven, this prosecutor had a stellar reputation for leadership and being reasonable. Those things are desperately needed right now.
All to satisfy the ego-driven bully currently residing as the Harris County District Attorney.
Kim, you've jumped from being a terrible public servant to just being a terrible person, in general. You possess none of the qualities of leadership that the prosecutors you punished all have. You are petty and vindictive, and this ridiculous witch hunt has shown that Public Interest and Safety is far less important to you than your own ego and misguided definitions of loyalty.
I'm embarrassed of you and I'm embarrassed for you.
To the eight of you who got tangled up in this stupid witch hunt, I'm sure that you know your reputations for both integrity and talent far outshine anything that Kim Ogg has ever accomplished in her career.